Donald Herman Voigt is 86. He earned a Purple Heart for his service in the Korean War. Not long after he received it, however, it was either lost or stolen.
Now, he’s asking for help to find it before he goes fully blind.
According to Fox News, Voigt was serving in South Korea when he was wounded in combat, with severe injuries to his arm.
The soldier was still in sickbay when he received the Purple Heart in 1953, just around the time the cease-fire in the war was about to be signed. Almost immediately, the award went missing.
“I only had it for 10 or 15 minutes,” Voigt said. “So I’m not used to having it anyway. But it would be nice.”
Val Hobson, a friend of the Voigt family who’s been “working feverishly” to help find the medal, contacted Fox News about it.
“Having the rare distinction of being awarded the Purple Heart surely categorizes him as a man among men who put his life on the line without any hesitation,” Hobson said in a statement to Fox.
“And though he is amazingly humble and always minimizes his efforts, he deserves to have this medal and all the recognition and praise that goes with this accomplishment.”
Voigt originally joined the National Guard in 1952 and then, on the orders of President Harry Truman, called up to the Army. He served with the 7th Infantry Division, 31st Regiment Infantry, Love Company until November of 1953, according to Fox.
He received an honorable discharge at the rank of corporal.
Hobson relayed Voigt’s memories of his time in the service to Fox.
“Well, I was just a kid at the time and I wasn’t sure why I received the award as I was doing what I was sent and trained to do,” Voigt said. “It happened so fast — I was injured by shrapnel, sent to sickbay and given the Purple Heart.
“Then — it was gone. I just thought I’d never get it back again so to have it would be pretty wonderful as I didn’t really realize at the time just how much it meant.”
The Apache Junction, Arizona, resident is looking for it back. And he is hoping for help from both of the state’s senators — Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema — as well as Rep. Paul Gosar.
It’s a race against time, though. In addition to Voigt’s age, he’s also losing his sight due to macular degeneration.
Voigt, Hobson said in a statement to Fox, is “a very special person. Humble to a fault, but kind, caring, loving and generous. Someone who never had an enemy.”
“Good Lord willing, I will pursue this until he has it in his hand,” she added, saying Voigt “deserves this” and “should have it.”
Fox News was unclear as to whether Hobson was seeking a replacement for his medal or help in finding the lost original, but in general terms, we agree. The Greatest Generation is quickly passing from us and so are many of the heroes who fought in Korea.
In Voigt’s case, he suffered in service for his country. He was honored for it — and possessed the physical symbol of that honor for less than an hour.
One can only hope he gets to spend a bit more time with it — while he has his sight.
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